Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

Inflammation of the renal pelvis (pyelonephritis) can be acute or chronic. The disease is usually caused by an infection by bacteria. This leads to inflammation of the renal pelvis near the ureters. Typical signs are pain and fever, as well as problems with urination. A kidney infection should always be examined and treated by a doctor.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease

What is pelvic inflammatory disease?

The technical term for inflammation of the renal pelvis is pyelonephritis, which comes from the Greek words “nephros” = kidney and “pyelos” = pelvis. This is a serious disease of the renal pelvis near the ureters. This is an acute or chronic inflammation, which in most cases is caused by bacteria. It is one of the most common kidney diseases and usually only one of the two human kidneys is affected. See definitionexplorer for Median Paralysis Definitions.

In terms of differential diagnosis, inflammation of the renal pelvis differs from inflammation of the renal cortex in that in the former case the connective tissue of the kidneys is typically affected and, in the chronic course, neighboring organs can also be affected. Due to the female anatomy of the urethra, which is much shorter compared to that of men, women are twice as likely to be affected by pelvic inflammatory disease than men.

However, once a person reaches a certain age and the frequency is reversed, there are more men than women who suffer from pelvic inflammatory disease. The reason for this is usually an enlarged prostate that impedes the flow of urine, which promotes the proliferation of bacteria.


The general cause of inflammation of the renal pelvis, as with cystitis, is the obstruction of the normal flow of urine, which can cause a proliferation of bacteria. Here, for example, a urinary stone can be the cause. If the ureters are not regularly flushed with urine, pathogens can rise from the outside and multiply in the urine-collecting renal pelvis. Then it usually comes to infections which result in inflammation of the renal pelvis.

Such an inflammation of the renal pelvis is only very rarely caused by pathogens that are transported through the bloodstream. People with a weakened immune system are particularly at risk, as is the case, for example, with existing infections or during treatment with certain medications. The causative pathogens are usually certain intestinal bacteria or staphylococci.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

The symptoms differ depending on whether acute or chronic inflammation of the renal pelvis is present. In the acute form, severe pain typically occurs in the lateral regions of the back, which can radiate into the pelvis. In addition there is a general feeling of illness ; those affected feel tired, listless and battered.

Often the temperature increases; Fever up to 40 degrees is possible and can sometimes be accompanied by chills. Nausea, vomiting and loss of appetite also occur. The heart rate may increase. Usually, the typical signs of a bladder infection accompany the disease, such as a constant urge to urinate and pain when urinating. Gastrointestinal problems are also possible.

Symptoms can appear suddenly or develop gradually. If the onset of the inflammation is rather sluggish, there are often only atypical symptoms such as headaches and tiredness at the beginning. Chronic inflammation of the renal pelvis often goes undetected at first because it does not cause any symptoms for a long time.

However, since the kidneys are continuously damaged, this eventually becomes noticeable in the form of chronic headaches and back pain, fatigue, weight loss, high blood pressure, stomach pains and blood counts. Frequently recurring bladder infections or recurring episodes of fever can also be an indication of chronic inflammation of the renal pelvis. In rare cases, the disease progresses completely without symptoms, which is referred to as a silent course.


Pyelonephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) can cause a number of very serious complications. In some cases, simple pyelonephritis develops into purulent inflammation of the renal pelvis. Pathogens can then enter the bloodstream and trigger blood poisoning (urosepsis) originating from the urinary tract.

Some patients also observe blood in the urine when the infection is severe, which is particularly common if a kidney abscess has formed as a result of the inflammation. A complicated course of the disease can also be expected in cases where the patient became infected during a hospital stay.

Treatment is then often difficult because many different germs, more and more often antibiotic-resistant germs, are involved in the infection. Complications must also be expected in the presence of other risk factors, especially in the case of a narrowing of the urinary tract, diabetes mellitus or in pregnant women.

As a rule, inflammation of the renal pelvis during pregnancy is harmless and very often goes undetected. In rare cases, however, the disease can cause a miscarriage or premature birth. If the kidneys are permanently impaired by chronic inflammation of the renal pelvis, this can lead to high blood pressure and a disruption in the electrolyte balance. Acute kidney failure is not usually to be expected in the case of inflammation of the renal pelvis, but this complication does occur in very rare cases.

When should you go to the doctor?

A doctor should be consulted as soon as a general feeling of illness or malaise sets in. If there is pain in the abdomen that is persistent or increasing, the symptoms should be clarified. If the pain in women of puberty is not triggered by the menstrual period, there is cause for concern. If you have an elevated body temperature, high blood pressure or a loss of appetite, it is advisable to consult a doctor.

Irregular urination, a renewed urge to urinate immediately after going to the toilet and chills are signs of an existing illness. If the person concerned suffers from restricted mobility or complaints when moving, a visit to a doctor is necessary. Headaches, exhaustion, sleep disorders as well as tiredness and rapid exhaustion are further indications of a health impairment. There is a need for action so that medical therapy can initiate an improvement in the symptoms.

If back pain occurs, food is refused or weight loss occurs, a doctor should be consulted. Taking pain medication is only advisable after consulting a doctor. Loss of libido, limitations in performing everyday tasks, and nausea and vomiting should be presented to a doctor. If the person concerned complains of irregularities in the digestive tract, this is also a sign of a disease that requires treatment.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of pelvic inflammatory disease usually depends on the symptoms. These are very diverse, but mostly those affected feel seriously ill with loss of appetite and severe tiredness, high fever, which may be accompanied by chills and severe pain in the lateral and lower abdominal region and/or in the back.

Chronic pyelonephritis can have more fatal consequences than one might initially think, so it must be treated medically immediately so that it does not become chronic in the first place. In order to be able to determine the diagnosis, medicine uses laboratory and imaging methods. You can use special urine test strips to determine whether there are proteins, leukocytes and blood in the urine. With the help of a bacterial culture, the causative bacterial strain can be identified, which is very important for choosing the right medication.

The inflammation of the renal pelvis is treated with an antibiotic corresponding to the pathogen and with painkillers. The antibiotics should quickly subside the symptoms and with them the severe pain. Nevertheless, the same applies here: the antibiotic pack must be completed completely, even if there are no symptoms, in order to prevent the bacteria from rising again.

Outlook & Forecast

If medical care is sought quickly, the further prospect of inflammation of the renal pelvis is favorable. Drugs are administered to prevent existing pathogens from spreading and kill them. Symptoms can be expected to ease within a few days. Recovery can be achieved after a few weeks. Without treatment, symptoms can increase in intensity and scope and cause complications.

If there is a chronic disease of the renal pelvis, the prognosis usually worsens. In particular, the healing path is lengthened. A change in lifestyle has a supportive effect on the further course. Nevertheless, doctors and medical professionals have to analyze the exact pathogen and optimize the treatment methods. Only then does the prospect of a cure improve. Overall, the weaker the body’s immune system is, the longer and more difficult it is to recover.

The symptoms can lead to secondary diseases, which in turn have a negative impact on the further course. Patients at risk, in particular, should therefore immediately seek cooperation with a doctor. They include pregnant women or people with other underlying diseases. If the disease progresses unfavorably, a life-threatening situation can develop. In the case of acute inflammation of the renal pelvis, it is advisable to seek medical care as quickly as possible. Otherwise, complications and a spread of the symptoms are to be expected.


A kidney infection or bladder infection can be prevented by ensuring that the urinary tract is constantly flushed. It’s easy to do by drinking regularly to keep yourself hydrated, stimulating your kidneys to work.

If less concentrated urine is constantly being excreted, pathogens have little chance of rising from the outside and causing an infection, as they are constantly being flushed out again.

Damp clothing, such as wet swimming trunks and bathing suits, must also be avoided. A chronic inflammation of the renal pelvis can only be prevented by completely healing an existing inflammation of the renal pelvis.


In the case of an inflammation of the renal pelvis, the affected person usually only has very few and only very limited measures and options for direct aftercare available, so that the affected person should ideally see a doctor very early on. It can also not come to an independent healing, so that the affected person should consult a doctor at the first symptoms and signs.

In the worst case, it can lead to blood poisoning and consequently to the death of the person concerned if no treatment is initiated. As a rule, inflammation of the renal pelvis can be treated by taking various medications. It is always important to ensure that the dosage is correct and that the medication is taken regularly in order to alleviate the symptoms.

When taking antibiotics, it should also be noted that they should not be taken together with alcohol. The person concerned should also rest and take care of themselves with a kidney infection. You should refrain from exertion or from stressful and physical activities. After successful treatment, no further follow-up measures are usually necessary. The life expectancy of the patient is then not reduced either.

You can do that yourself

In addition to the medical treatment of inflammation of the renal pelvis, you should drink plenty of fluids every day. A quantity of 3 liters is recommended. This should flush the urinary tract more. Also, heat helps. Anti-inflammatory chamomile baths, a hot water bottle on painful areas and bed rest serve this purpose. A hot hay flower pack can be used as an alternative to the hot-water bottle. This relieves a constant urge to urinate and a burning sensation when urinating.

Major physical exertion should be avoided. To strengthen the immune system to fight disease, the additional intake of vitamin C is recommended. This also increases the acidity of the kidneys, which inhibits the spread of the bacteria. Teas and extracts from birch leaves, bear arbor and elder, as well as goldenrod, cranberries and saw palmetto have also proven effective in relieving inflammation of the renal pelvis. Combined bladder and kidney teas are also available in different versions. In addition, a supplementary treatment with suitable Schuessler salts may be appropriate.

Mineral water should not contain carbonic acid. The bladder should be emptied as completely as possible. When it comes to drinks, coffee, alcohol and black tea should be avoided, as these remove fluid from the body. After going to the toilet, women should avoid getting intestinal germs into the urethra as part of the cleaning process. When leaving the house, appropriate clothing should be used to protect against wet and cold.